By Ola Modupe (LAGOS) –
A group, known was Conference of Southwest Writers, has cautioned against the temptation to compare Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, and Chimamanda Adichie, as such comparison would be mischievous and suicidal.
ChimamandaAdichie is a Nigerian writer whose works include novels, short stories and nonfiction. Among her popular books are Americana, Purple Hibiscus, Notes on Grief, We Should All be Feminists and, Mama’s Sleeping Scarf.
The statement issued by the Coordinator of the SouthWest Writers, Wole Adedoyin in Ibadan on Wednesday, was in response to recent social media posts by a group called the “Obidients” (ardent supporters and followers of Labour Party Presidential Candidate in the 2023 elections in Nigeria, Mr. Peter Obi), who have been comparing the two Nigerian literary giants.
The catalyst for Soyinka’s intervention in the ongoing debate was an interview on Channels TV by the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Datti Baba-Ahmed, in which he made uncomplimentary remarks about the Nigerian judiciary. Soyinka was quick to upbraid Baba-Ahmed for his comments and cautioned against the use of words that smack of fascism.
Chimamanda Adichie, on the other hand, has been a vocal critic of the Nigerian government and its policies. Her recent letter to President Joe Biden, in which she called for his intervention in the aftermath of the February 25 presidential election, has generated a lot of controversy and debate.
Since the publication of Adichie’s letter, some Obidients have taken to social media to compare her with Soyinka, with some even going as far as to suggest that she is a better writer and activist than Soyinka. The Conference of Southwest Writers has warned against such comparisons, noting that they are not only mischievous but also suicidal.
According to the Conference of Southwest Writers, Soyinka’s contributions to Nigerian and African literature are far greater than those of Adichie. Soyinka, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, is widely regarded as one of Africa’s greatest writers. His work has had a profound impact on African literature and culture, and he is an inspiration to many young writers. It is also important to note that Soyinka has been a strong advocate for democracy and good governance in Nigeria, and his interventions in national discourse have always been based on sound reasoning and a deep understanding of the issues at stake.
Chimamanda Adichie, on the other hand, is still a rising star in the literary world. While she has achieved considerable success and critical acclaim for her work, including the Orange Prize and the MacArthur Fellowship, she is still a relatively young writer with much to prove. Comparing her to Soyinka is therefore premature and unwise.
The Conference of Southwest Writers has also noted that Soyinka’s contributions to Nigerian literature and culture go beyond his writing. He has been a strong voice for social justice and democracy in the country, and his interventions in national discourse have helped to shape the country’s political landscape.
The Conference of Southwest Writers also emphasized the need for caution in using social media to express opinions about sensitive issues. While social media can be a powerful tool for communication, it can also be a breeding ground for misinformation and divisive rhetoric. The Society urged Nigerians to be mindful of the impact of their words and to use social media responsibly.
The Conference of Southwest Writers further called on Nigerians to show respect for both Wole Soyinka and Chimamanda Adichie, and to recognize the important contributions that both writers have made to Nigerian and African literature. They also called on the Obidients to desist from comparing the two writers and to refrain from using social media to spread harmful and divisive messages.
The Conference of Southwest Writers (COSW) is a literary organization based in Nigeria, which promotes literature and literary culture in the southwestern region of the country. The organization was founded in 2022 by a group of writers and literary enthusiasts with the aim of promoting literature and literary culture in the region. COSW holds an annual conference, which includes panel discussions, book launches, and other literary events. The conference also awards prizes for outstanding literary works. The organization also has a mandate to promote the study of literature and to encourage the development of literary talents among young people in the region.